Many fishermen will tell you that fishing isn't as much about what you catch as it is about the fishing experience. But if you're fishing for your dinner, or participating in a tournament, you want to catch the big ones -- and a lot of them. The right bait is important, and while catfish will eat just about anything, they seem to really go for the smelly stuff.
Stink Bait Basics
Stink bait is exactly what it sounds like: a stinky bait used to catch fish, especially catfish. You can purchase stink bait at bait shops or sporting goods stores, or make it yourself using items from the grocery store. Some stink bait consists of just one or two ingredients. Strong odors seem to draw catfish. What smells awful to the fisherman apparently smells pretty good to the fish, so the stinkier the bait, the better.
The Big Stink
If you're making your own catfish stink bait, stink is only half of the equation, but it's the most important part of attracting fish. Foods with a strong blood odor, such as chicken livers or the innards of another gutted fish work well. Fragrant cheese -- Limburger, for example -- adds a strong aroma to your bait. You also can buy liquid additives to make your bait smell bad. Contrary to the name, stink bait doesn't have to smell terrible, just strongly. Sweet scents, such as banana nut and anise extract, attract carp.
Holding it Together
Most stink bait needs a doughy substance to hold it together and keep it on your hook. If you're using something that's already soft and gooey -- such as chopped chicken livers, fish parts or melted cheese -- add flour, oats, crushed crackers or cereal until you achieve a dough-like consistency. Start with a small amount of the grain, and add more as you're mixing until it's the desired consistency. Some people like to use a blender, but you can do it by hand.
Dough balls work well if you're using a liquid extract. You can also add solid ingredients if they're chopped, pureed or melted. Start with equal parts water and flour, and blend them in a large bowl. Add the stinky ingredients, mixing well. Add more flour, and stir until your dough is thick enough to form into balls. Generally, the consistency you want will feel like soft, squashed white bread.
Using Your Stink Bait
Use stink bait with regular hooks, or buy looper rigs, which have several hooks on them to securely hold your stink bait. If you're using chicken livers or cheese, put these on a hook or looper rig without adding dough. You can buy "catfish worms" at many bait shops. These are hollow tubes with holes in the sides. Put the stink bait inside, and wait for the hungry fish to come running -- or swimming.
The size of dough ball or stink bait chunk you use depends on the size of fish you're trying to catch. Finding just the right size and consistency for your bait might require trial and error. Store your stink bait in a container with a tight-fitting lid.